Would Charles Dickens have shown carol singers the door?

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring Guy Pearce and Andy Serkis, begins Sunday 22 December on BBC 1 at 9pm.

Set in the early 1800s, A Christmas Carol is the story of the London financier Ebenezer Scrooge who is fixated with fiscal greed and sapping the cheer from impoverished families.

Yet, on one Christmas Eve Scrooge is visited by four spirits in an effort to change his ways and be kind to all, as he once had as a young man.

But would Charles Dickens have been welcoming of carol singers or would he, like Scrooge, have felt they were darkening his doorstep?

A letter, written by Dickens in 1864, suggests he may well have slammed the door in carol singers faces.

In the letter Dickens sets out his objections to "brazen performers on brazen instruments, beaters of drums, grinders of organs, bangers of banjos, clashers of cymbals, worriers of fiddles, and bellowers of ballads", hardly the sentiments of a music lover.

In this case he was writing to Parliament, which was debating the issue of street music in general, not just carol singers.

Aside from the link to music in the title, there are many moments in A Christmas Carol when music indicates how far Scrooge has become a miser.

When Scrooge is a young man Dickens describes him dancing to a determined fiddler at a Christmas ball, whereas in his later life Scrooge throws rulers at doors to shoo away carollers.

The decline of Scrooge's partaking in music could also be said for Charles Dickens.

His attitude towards street music couldn't be further from the Dickens we have come to imagine from his writing against social injustice.

A Christmas Carol is on BBC One Sunday 22 December

Although the Dickens family were continuously in and out of debt, they were an outgoing family who attended many social events.

The extent of the family’s debt was so severe at one point that Charles' father, John Dickens, was sent to debtors prison.

At the age of 12, Charles was sent to work in a factory to support his family and pay for his eldest sister Frances to attend the Royal Academy of Music.

When his father was released from prison Charles was enrolled at the privately run Wellington House Academy, where he was taught English, French and Latin, writing and Mathematics.

It would be extra-curricular activities where he would develop his passion for the arts and writing.

For the majority of children in the 19th century, music was heard at church services and on the streets of densely populated towns and cities because of the growing numbers in street musicians.

With more specialist music schools opening in the 1800s and a flocking of masses to the cities there was an increase in the number of musicians who worked the streets for money.

The amount of street musicians had grown that much that the issue caused a rift between people and the opposing opinions.

Surprisingly, Dickens was on the side of keeping the streets quiet, as his letter to Parliament demonstrates.

A lot of Dickens' characters were based on the real people he came across in his life, including himself in characters like David Copperfield, perhaps in his musical taste he also shared some traits with Ebenezer Scrooge?

Wellington House Academy fell into disrepair before being demolished for an expanding train network

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